NBS Outdoor Fall Issue 2020

Whether they live in or on the ground, hunting “hogs” can be a blast

Hog Heaven

By Al Raychard

per day. For the sake of comparison, that would equate to a 175-pound human eating 15 pounds of salad each day! Wild hogs are even worse. They devour crops, uproot fields and pastures, destroy wildlife habitats, kill trees, and spread disease to humans and livestock. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that feral hogs cause roughly $1.5 billion in crop damage annually (that doesn’t include damage to wildlife habitat.) Feral hogs are now prevalent in 36 states, and have been sighted in 47 states. Nationwide, there are an estimated five and a half million hogs (the actual number could be as high as eight million.) In 1990, the wild hog population was just two million! It’s no wonder that many states encourage hunters to pursue these beasts.

My Webster’s Ninth Collegiate Dictionary defines the word “hog” as, “one that uses something to excess.” That’s the perfect description of two critters I love to hunt: the sneaky groundhog (aka the woodchuck) and the prolific, destructive wild hog. Despite their marked size difference, the groundhog (a member of the squirrel family) and wild hog (in the swine family) have definite similarities -- not the least of which is their ability to cause widespread crop damage and their reputation as nuisance pests. While there’s no reliable estimate of how much damage groundhogs cause nationwide, they’re vegetarians and will happily gobble up pretty much anything that grows in a garden. These critters can consume almost a pound of vegetable matter

• NBS OUTDOOR • 17

Fall 2020

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